In a world marred by light pollution, this quest for true darkness is a clarion call to turn out the lights—so that all may see.
Little Fox emerges from his den into a night as bright as day. Traffic lights, streetlights, city lights blot out the dark. Birds can't see the stars to migrate. Frogs wait for dark before singing — but dark doesn't come. Newly hatched turtle babies head the wrong direction, unable to find the ocean in the blinding light. This simple story is a gentle reminder that dark is as beautiful and as important as light. An author's note urges readers to remember Dark Sky Week, which takes place each April.
–Laurie Hertzel, Star Tribune, 2/20/2021
Creatures search for Night in this story about the negative effects of light pollution. In the coastal town in which they live, Fox and Beetle see an abundance of artificial light and set out to search for “the Dark of Night.” Instead, they find electric lights everywhere, ones that confuse Songbird, silence Frog, and disturb Bear’s hibernation. Each of these creatures joins Fox and Beetle on their journey into new terrains, including mountains, deserts, and dunes, but all are still dominated by electric lights. When they come upon baby turtles hatching on the shore, the creatures decide to swim to a small island. Finally, they see the natural nighttime light they crave. A rhythmic refrain (“Across the wide, wide world, / they search… / for the Dark of Night. // But everywhere—Lights!”) creates a satisfying cadence in the text. Two spreads toward the open and close of the story feature short rhymes in four stanzas about the kinds of artificial and natural lights the creatures encounter; these anchor the story and contrast the two kinds of light in appealing ways. The closing spreads with the dark sky and natural, nocturnal lights are enchanting. Stars twinkle, and the moon glows, as Mother Nature would have it. The fade-in title design on the book’s cover is especially smart, communicating much about the story. An author’s note kicks off the book, noting how little we hear about light pollution. Illuminating.
This can be read as a sweet animal story-time book, as an extended analogy or fable about an important science topic, as an illustration mentor for mastery of light, shadow, and minimal color palette, or as a charming bedtime book. In each case it will rise to the top of those categories with room to spare. The power of this seemingly simple, quiet story is the balance among characterization, storytelling, mood, language, dramatic tension, specificity of detail, and universal global implications.
–Sandy Brehl, Unpacking the Power of Picture Books blog, 11/16/2020
A unique and important book that raises awareness not only about light pollution but about natural cycles of sleep and wakefulness, Lights Out would be an excellent addition to lessons in science and the environment and is highly recommended for home, school, and public library collections.
–Kathryn Carroll, Celebrate Picture Books blog, 09/04/2020
A fox and a beetle are trying to settle in for the night, but it’s too bright! Lights Out, a story about the ways that light pollution affects nature, sees a series of animals set out on a journey to find out how to shut off all the lights: but they just keep finding more. “House lights / Car lights / Truck lights / Street lights… Everywhere -LIGHTS!” The artificial lights shine on, confusing birds and frogs, and keep a bear from hibernating. The group of animals travels together, looking for the source of all the light, until they discover newly hatched baby turtles, running toward the moonlit water and decide to follow. Swimming together to a small island, the animals finally discover the natural light they crave. A powerful statement on light pollution, the text reads like a lyric poem, beautiful and evocative. Susan Reagan’s artwork is soft and dreamlike, with the harsh yellow light almost intrusive to the reader as we shift to the animals’ point of view, following Marsha Diane Arnold’s words. There are breathtaking moments, like the moment the animals discover the stars after not seeing them for so long; Marsha Diane Arnold’s verse builds a yearning in readers, so the moment when they arrive at the island brings such joy, perfectly communicated by Susan Reagan’s artwork. An author’s note on light pollution begins the story. A beautiful, poignant picture book to add to your collections. Display and read with Sue Soltis’s The Stars Just Up the Street, and Lizi Boyd’s Flashlight (I know, it’s artificial light, but we’ll keep it as non-intrusive as possible).
–Rosemary Kiladitis, Mom Read It blog, 08/24/2020
Dear readers, not only will you (and little ones) learn about light pollution through this story, but you will enjoy the journey that Fox and his friends make. And I think that you too will find the beauty tucked away in each of the illustrations as breathtaking as I did. This is not a book to be missed.
–Jena Benton, Simply 7 blog, 08/21/2020
LIGHTS OUT addresses light pollution, which is a topic I didn’t know much about and found fascinating while reading Marsha’s text. The art is stunning and I was lucky enough to see Sue working on this book from the very beginning. It’s always a magical thing to see a book created from start to finish.
–Lindsay Ward, Critter Lit blog, 08/20/2020
Children will get the message: light pollution is harmful to animals. Teachers, parents, and grandparents can add that human biorhythms can also be affected by too much light. This will be a great classroom resource for pre-school through third-grade students.
–Carol Baldwin, Carol Baldwin's Blog, 08/19/2020
This is one of those books that I read and immediately couldn’t wait to share with my grandkiddos, because 1) it’s beautiful, and 2) it’s the first time I’d seen this subject–light pollution–in a book for kids, and they need to know about it. The combination of Marsha Diane Arnold’s lyrical prose and Susan Reagan’s luminous illustrations blew me away. Simply stunning.
–Jill Esbaum, Picture Book Builders blog, 07/28/2020
This book, Lights Out written by Marsha Diane Arnold with artwork by Susan Reagan is a plea to lessen light pollution, and a lyrical tribute to the Dark of Night. In an author's note prior to the start of the narrative, Marsha Diane Arnold talks about light pollution, the Dark Sky Association, and International Dark-Sky Week. I highly recommend this title for your professional and personal collections.
–Margie Myers-Culver, Librarian's Quest blog, 08/18/2020